Rylands Charters

Scope and Content

The Rylands Charters sequence is a miscellaneous sequence of several thousand deeds, charters and other documents acquired by the former John Rylands Library, from various sources, by gift or purchase. Individual collections vary greatly in size and importance: from extensive archives containing several hundred medieval and early modern deeds, to single documents of minor significance.

The earliest material, from the mid-twelfth century, is to be found in an extensive collection of Cheshire deeds purchased from the Reverend P.G. Langdon (RYCH/1263-1942). These include three charters of the Earls of Chester. There is also a late twelfth-century grant relating to Tottington in Lancashire (RYCH/3409). Thirteen-century material occurs in the Stanley of Alderley deeds, again relating to Cheshire (RYCH/776-913); the Lindsay deeds (RYCH/701-755), among which are grants to Tintern Abbey; a collection of deeds relating to Cheshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire (RYCH/2245-2477); deeds relating to Middleton in Essex (RYCH/26-43); and handfuls of deeds relating to Plympton Priory in Devon and Swavesey Priory in Cambridgeshire (RYCH/44-52).

Geographical coverage is very extensive with every historic county in England being represented. There is also good coverage of north and mid Wales, especially among the Salusbury family deeds (RYCH/914-1262). While Scottish documents are entirely absent, there is slight coverage of Ireland, with documents relating to the counties of Waterford (RYCH/1457, /1473 and /1705), Donegal (RYCH/2467-2477) and Tyrone (RYCH/4631-4635).

Types of document include charters, deeds of conveyance, settlements, mortgages, leases, legal documents, wills and other testamentary records, rentals, manorial records, accounts and miscellaneous papers, such as business documents and Poor Law records.

Among the larger and more significant collections are:

  • Deeds relating to the island of Jersey, 1469-1815 (RYCH/65-162);
  • A collection of deeds relating to Lancashire, 1593-1843 (RYCH/285-700);
  • Deeds relating to Cheshire presented by Lord Stanley of Alderley, 1271-1650 (RYCH/776-913);
  • Deeds mainly concerning the Salusbury family, acquired with the Thrale-Piozzi Manuscripts from Mrs R.V. Colman, 1490-1837 (RYCH/914-1262);
  • Deeds chiefly concerning properties in Cheshire, particularly townships on the Wirral such as Higher and Lower Bebington, Bromborough, Eastham, Hooton, Mollington, Storeton and Tranmere, purchased from the Rev. P.G. Langdon, c.1130-1857 (RYCH/1263-1942);
  • Deeds and manorial records relating to the Aston family of Aston by Sutton in Cheshire, relating prodominantly to Cheshire and acquired from R.H. Linaker esq., 1536-1836 (RYCH/2012-2130);
  • Deeds relating to the Hadfield family of Hadfield in Derbyshire, and to properties in Cheshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire, mid-13th century to 1877 (RYCH/2245-2477);
  • A collection of deeds, rentals, 'particulars' and other documents relating to Lincolnshire, and to the interests of the banker Sir Robert Clayton MP and his partner alderman John Morris, 1314-1747 (RYCH/2478-2808);
  • A collection of predominantly 17th- and 18th-century deeds and documents relating to various places in the Rossendale and Rochdale areas of east Lancashire, particularly Bacup, Brandwood, Haslingden, Newchurch in Rossendale, Rawtenstall, Spotland, Todmorden and Whitworth, presented by G. Calvert esq., 1534-1867 (RYCH/2891-2976);
  • Three series of business and legal papers associated with Sir Robert Clayton (1629-1707), MP for the City of London, and his fellow apprentice and partner, Alderman John Morris (d. 1682), 1563-1778 (RYCH/3632-3849);
  • Over four hundred leases from Dean Row and Styal in Wilmslow parish, Cheshire, and several manorial records relating to the manor of Bollin cum Norcliffe in Wilmslow, presented by the 10th Earl of Stamford, 1647-1833 (RYCH/3850-4317);
  • Records of the township of High Legh in Cheshire, including settlement and removal orders, apprenticeship indentures, constables' accounts, and records of the overseers of the poor and surveyors of highways, 1687-1906 (RYCH/4318-4510);
  • A collection of miscellaneous deeds with a wide geographical spread, presented by the executors of Miss Janet Fishwick, 1541-1822 (RYCH/4613-4702).

Administrative / Biographical History

See Scope and content note.


The original system of arrangement devised by Moses Tyson and Frank Taylor when first cataloguing the sequence has been followed strictly. They respected the separate provenances of material, but they appear to have been less concerned with preserving original order. Within each collection of distinct provenance, they generally arranged material geographically, listing places alphabetically and arranging the items within them chronologically. Within the present finding-aid material with a shared provenance is treated as a series. Below that level, each place constitutes a subseries, and individual documents are of course items, with items occasionally being further subdivided into pieces. The documents are numbered consecutively, RYCH/1, RYCH/2, etc.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The Rylands Charters were acquired by the John Rylands Library from numerous different sources, by gift and purchase. The immediate source of acquisition of each series is recorded at the series level.

Other Finding Aids

Three handlists of the Rylands Charters sequence were originally published:

  • Moses Tyson, Hand-list of charters, deeds and similar documents in the possession of the John Rylands Library, II: miscellaneous documents acquired by gift or purchase (Manchester, 1935) - RYCH/1-2011.
  • Frank Taylor, Hand-list of charters, deeds and similar documents in the possession of the John Rylands Library III: miscellaneous documents acquired by gift or purchase (Manchester, 1937) - RYCH/2012-2976.
  • Frank Taylor, Hand-list of charters, deeds and similar documents in the possession of the John Rylands Library IV: miscellaneous documents acquired by gift or purchase (Manchester, 1975) - RYCH/2977-4779.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


It is possible that future accruals of additional charters, whether individual items or small collections, will be added to the Rylands Charters sequence. However, archives and substantial artificial collections of deeds are now treated as discrete entities.